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Revenue and Customs Brief 3 (2020) - VAT liability of supplies of electronic publications


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Published 30 April 2020

Purpose of this brief

This brief explains the changes in the VAT treatment of certain supplies of electronic publications (‘e-publications’) as announced by the government on 30 April 2020.

Who needs to read this

Organisations that make supplies of e-publications and their advisers.


At Budget 2020, the government announced that it would zero rate certain supplies of e-publications with effect from 1 December 2020 to support literacy and reading in all its forms.

However, following the outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and the need for people to stay at home, the government announced on 30 April that it will bring forward the implementation date to 1 May 2020. This is intended to reduce the cost of access to online publications during these challenging times when many people are confined to their homes and schools are closed.

Current treatment of e-publications for VAT purposes

As explained in Revenue and Customs Brief 1(2020) , HMRC’s policy is that supplies of all e-publications are standard rated for VAT purposes until the changes outlined in this brief take effect on 1 May 2020.

Changes in treatment of e-publications

With effect from 1 May 2020, electronic supplies of the products listed below, unless they are wholly or predominantly devoted to advertising, audio or video content will be zero rated:

  • books
  • booklets
  • brochures
  • pamphlets
  • leaflets
  • newspapers
  • journals and periodicals (which include magazines)
  • children’s picture and painting books

Further information

Further information can be found in Zero rate of VAT for electronic publications.

VAT Notice 701/10 and VBOOKS will be updated by 31 July 2020.

About the Author

© Crown Copyright 2020.

A licence is needed to reproduce this article and has been republished for educational / informational purposes only. Article reproduced by permission of HM Revenue & Customs.

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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2020-04-30 21:54:52 in Tax Articles

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